This week I am going to step out of the typical post style highlighting a travel location, and talk about what travel, and these random, accidental places that I find, mean to me. This is something that I’ve been thinking about a lot lately, and it’s an idea that gets tangled up with a lot of other things, mostly the big question, What do I want from my life? Who knew that vacation spots could prompt such deep thinking?
I guess I am at that point in my life that’s been labelled “quarter-life crisis” (ok, I’m actually 26 so maybe mine started a little late). I’ve been thinking a lot about what I want and what will make me happy, because a lot of what I’m doing right now does not make me happy, if I’m honest, even though it is what I’m supposed to want. (Gen Y Girl said it great here).
Writing travel articles is almost therapeutic for me – it’s a way to tide myself over for now, remembering where I’ve been and thinking about the other great places that are out there to visit. But I want to make sure that I have the chance to visit them. So how do I make that happen?
My New Year’s Resolution this year was pretty broad and pretty simple. After a couple years of taking care of other people, I resolved to focus on what makes me happy this year and hope that it leads to success. So that’s what I’ve been trying to do, and it’s led to quite a bit of soul-searching.
In less than two months I will taking a trip to Santiago, Chile – my first visit to Chile, South America, the southern hemisphere even. It is tremendously exciting and a little intimidating, especially because there is more behind the trip than just the hope of a relaxing vacation.
What I want is to do something, something that requires independence and self-reliance, that lets me see the world, absorb a new culture, and finally become fluent in Spanish. What I do not want is for the 9-5 business world to be what I do for the next 40 years of my life. I want more than that. And, what my parents are unable to understand, is that it’s not about not liking my job. I could get a new job if I wanted to. This is about something much bigger – about being happy and living your life to the fullest. I don’t want to put all of my dreams on hold until I retire in the hopes that I can follow them then. I want to follow them now, while I’m young, and can still direct the course of the majority of my life.
So I’ve been seriously considering (and spending a lot of time thinking about and researching) moving to Chile, probably doing the stereotypical teaching English thing. It feels like the right place for me to be, and I’ve always gone with that instinctive feeling in the past and it’s worked out well for me. I know several people from Chile, and several more who have at least visited, and everyone loves it, with the positives far outweighing the negatives. I think it would be a fantastic, life-altering experience. I have been doing a lot of work on my Spanish, and I think it’s feasible. But the first step is to actually visit the place and see if this still seems like a good idea once I’m there. So hopefully when I return to the US on December 10, I will have reached a decision. So, for now, we will see.
The other thing to consider, of course, is that your problems with move you, and you have to be sure that you are running toward rather than away from something. In the past, I have come up with many plots and plans that have consumed me briefly, but have quickly fallen out of favor. So I am taking my time with this one – making sure it sticks, and testing it out beforehand. I think I am running toward something, but one can never be sure, I suppose – and maybe the two go hand-in-hand anyway.
Maybe all of this sounds whiny, especially to people like my parents. But I don’t think it is – why shouldn’t I do what I love, especially when I’m out a point in my life with very few things tying me down? My dad has said multiple times that of course work sucks, he hated his job every day of his life, so I should just deal with it. Well, I’m sorry that you were miserable for 30 years dad, but I don’t intend to be. Especially if the only reason behind being miserable is, “Well, people are supposed to be miserable – that’s what makes you a stable adult.”
So those are my thoughts, spilled out on the webpage. Maybe they are meaningless and a little crazy, maybe not. At least some of these thoughts are always going through my head when I write one of these posts about accidental finds – looking nostalgically at old pictures, remembering traveling and my time living in Scotland. Reading other posts and articles by people who advocate taking hold of your life and doing what you want even if it’s not what you’re supposed to want or do (within reason of course), always inspire me as well. I suppose that’s the beauty of the blogosphere.
What about you guys? Does anybody else feel like this? How have you arranged your life to combat the quarter-life crisis feelings? Has travel played into it? I am always excited to hear other people’s stories!